In the past month, I have had the good fortune of attending and presenting at two excellent conferences: the Midwest Writing Centers Association annual conference in Madison, Wisconsin (October 20-22, 2011) and the Focus on Teaching and Technology Conference at the University of Missouri-St. Louis in St. Louis, Missouri (November 10-11, 2011).
Both of these events have deepened my thinking and eventual practice on the following topics:
- how to create multimodal, scenario-based e-learning with UW-Madison’s exciting freeware (available upon request; not for commercial usage): Case Scenario/Critical Reader Builder. I cannot wait to finalize an “avoiding plagiarism” tutorial I’ve been working on with Joni Boone with this tool!
- additional ways universities and colleges are using Google education apps to improve accessibility, affordability, and dynamic learning. Tom Mills’ presentation at FTTC makes me excited to think about “software as service” and where learning institutions like mine and many others may be headed in the future in terms of leveraging Google apps in higher education.
- even more inventive ways to use VoiceThread in the classroom, including having students and professors use VoiceThread to give formative feedback on writing, VoiceThreads as a launchpad for interactive classroom tutorials, the perks of having an institutional VoiceThread account, and more!
- Dr. Rebecca L. Dohrman, Assistant Professor of Communication at Maryville University in St. Louis, recommends creating tool checklists for students to embed meaningful information literacy skills into core curriculum using programs and hardware such as Twitter, Foursquare, geocaching, and iPads. Such a simple but nifty idea!
- Lastly, the time I spent at the MWCA workshop, “An Inquiry State of Mind: Doing Research in the Writing Center,” with Dr. Michele Eodice, University of Oklahoma, and Dr. Beth Godbee, Marquette University, was by far one of the best hands-on workshops I’ve been to in a very long time. I came away with an action plan of how to further my research interests in web accessibility and online learning, and I cannot wait to jump into this project in the New Year!
There was even more that I took away and learned at these conferences, but one of the biggest take-aways I often have after attending conferences like these is the amazing sense of renewal and excitement I feel about my career, the students I serve, the educators I work with, and the broader academic community I have become a part of, if only for a few days or for a much longer time frame.
Dr. Lee E. Skallerup expressed the importance of conferences in her wonderful blog, College Ready Writing, now written for Inside Higher Education when she wrote the entry, “The Space/Place/Play of Conferences”:
It’s the chance to meet people who you wouldn’t otherwise meet, make connections you wouldn’t otherwise make.